Exhibition Archives

Looking Back at You: Masks by Artists

The mask is a device associated with a variety of functions ranging from theatre to ritual, disguise to protection and it's often understood through these oppositions. Recent acquisitions by Murray Laufer and Patrick Lundeen, other artworks from the collection, and several key loans are included in this thematic exhibition. 

The mask is an exemplary device of the artist. Associated with concealment, disguise, and performance, it is an identity-shifter, a site of transformation, a second skin. But it is also an identity-fixer; from the death mask to the theatrical mask, it concentrates and preserves human expression. In either case, it is an agent of self-transformation, but it can also be an instrument that transforms speech, acting upon a community. The terrain of the mask is that of identity, where reality and appearance meet. It has thus long held importance as a medium for communication with other worlds, in ritual, and as a bearer of news from beyond. Looking Back at You brings together a diverse array of artworks that depict and/or employ the mask as a structuring device. Long a trope of the modern artist-Picasso's appropriation of and influence by African masks is part of the legend-the works in this exhibition demonstrate its continuing fascination and power.

-Pan Wendt, curator

Featured artists: Miles Collyer, Francis Coutellier, COZIC, Brendan Fernandes, General Idea, Brian Jungen, Murray Laufer, Patrick Lundeen, Allan Harding MacKay, David Neel, Alfred Pellan, Erica Rutherford, Dan Starling, Diana Thorneycroft, Becka Viau

March 7, 2015 - November 1, 2015

David Neel, Ridicule Mask, 1991, carved and painted cedar mask with cedar bark ornament, Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa